Ali stars as a half-British half Pakistan woman liberalized by growing up in London. She is tricked by her father into returning to Pakistan and marrying the brother who had given up music as un-Islamic.
It is deeply critical of religious zealots, one of whom literally steals the microphone from a moderate in the last scene in the movie. It is also deeply critical of the United States' response to Muslims living in U.S. after 9/11.
"Every person with a Muslim name was stamped a terrorist and being a Muslim became a crime," Mansoor told the Indian news service IANS. "The way America and the West are dealing the problem is very wrong — they are just trying to kill and suppress those Muslims who are being labeled as terrorists. And it will not solve the problem because if you will kill 10, a hundred more will emerge."
"Khuda Kay Liye" won the silver Pyramid Award at the Cairo International Film Festival and the Roberto Rossellini Award by the Italian film industry.
"It's a one of a kind wonderful film to come out of Pakistan," Ashok Ahuja, the director of Perfect Picture Company, which is distributing the movie, told ABC News. "With India opening up, you'll find the quality of the Pakistani films improving tremendously. The talent over there is tremendous."
When Pakistan banned Indian movies, the Pakistani movie industry dried up. Bollywood, the world's largest movie industry, produces about 1,000 films every year. Pakistan produces 40.
Ahuja, for one, is hoping that "Khuda" "opens the floodgates" of Pakistani movies into India.
"They had fewer cinemas over there and the returns were not that high," Ahuja says by phone from Bombay. "Now that you have India opening up, the returns will be there … and when the returns good, the quality will improve."
The movie, which was made for about $10 million, has premiered in the United Kingdom and the United States, mostly to positive reviews.
Walking out of a sparsely attended first showing in New Delhi, Anmad said he thought more Indians would see the movie as word about its opening spread. "Their movies are usually mediocre. This was an exception." And in better art, he hoped, would be better understanding. "As far as sports, movies, culture go, India and Pakistan are the same," he said. "Every day, we are sitting closer together."